Avid cyclists riding hundreds of miles to help injured military membersPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- For the next four days, dozens of people will be doing nothing but riding their bikes all across Arizona. While it is physically challenging, participants say it is their helping heart for veterans that keeps them motivated.
Wearing neon green, Ryan Pinney stood out as he led the group of cyclists Wednesday morning. But this is not just any kind of bike ride, with about 17,000 feet of vertical climbing over the next few days.
This is the Ride 430 Challenge that Pinney, an avid cyclist, dreamed of and worked toward for the past year, after a single bike ride changed his life.
"Got home from a deployment and went on a bicycle ride, fell off that bicycle, broke my T-12, vertebrae and my spine," Pinney said.
But Pinney found reason to persevere when he received a hand cycle as a gift from the organization he is now part of.
Despite the odds, the Air Force Arizona National Guard veteran is riding the whole way, as a way to help others like himself.
He is one of 45 cyclists riding in honor of injured military members.
"All these people here are from all kinds of different backgrounds, all walks of life, are all bound by a common cause," Ride 430 Chairman John Greenway said.
Each cyclist raises money in the six months prior to the event, with all proceeds donated to different military charities.
"We have to take care of these people when they have been injured," Greenway said. "We gotta take care of their families."
Care that Pinney said changed his life in more ways than he could find the words to say.
"They came to my aid, they helped support my wife, my family," Pinney said. "Now I get to be a part of the team and help somebody else."
This is the sixth anniversary of the Ride 430 Challenge.